After Thursday's game, Jason Collins met with the parents of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student who was tortured and murdered in 1998. With Collins acknowledging last spring that he chooses to No. 98 to honor Shepard, the Shepards wanted to meet the Nets center. The Shepards and Collins met for 10 minutes.
Overnight, Collins tweeted out a picture of him with Judy and Dennis Shepard as well as Matthew's brother. Collins provided the family with an autographed copy of his uniform jersey -- now the most popular jersey sold by NBA.com.
"Obviously, it’s extremely special, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting them," Collins told the Casper (WY) Star-Tribune, the Shepards' hometown paper, before the game.
"It was great," said Judy Shepard, who with her husband drove down from Casper to the game. "It was all great. He's very kind, smart, humble. It was delightful. We were happy to finally have the opportunity to meet."
She said receiving his jersey was "cool. It was very sweet, very genuine and very thoughtful."
"I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey," Collins said with a laugh when asked whether it was game-worn. "This is a backup."
Collins choice of No. 98 appears to be meaningful to others as well. The number had four of the top five selling jersey items Wednesday on NBAStore.com. His home and road replica jerseys, the women's replica road jersey and the men's T-shirt with No. 98 on it were tops in their categories. One or more of his jerseys have been the top sellers for three straight days.
Collins was asked about the response prior to the game.
"It’s an awesome feeling to have. But I think it’s also a tribute to Matthew Shepard and also the year 1998 was the year the Trevor Project was founded (a national organization focused on preventing the suicides of gay youth)," Collins said. "So the year 1998 has a lot of significance to me and a lot of people."
A member of the Nuggets also came forward to support Collins.
"It's historical, especially with him being the first player to do it. Also, he's black and it's Black History Month," said a smiling Kenneth Faried after practice Thursday.
Faried was raised in Newark by his mother, who is lesbian, and has been outspoken for gay rights issues.
"It helped me growing up because my mom was gay and with Jason Collins coming out as an athlete to be gay and an active athlete also is very supportive," Faried added.
- GameTime: Jason Collins (Video) - NBA.com
- Jason Collins on his return and the fans' reaction (Video) - YES Network
- Jason Collins wears No. 98 for the Brooklyn Nets to honor Matthew Shepard - Ryan Parker - Denver Post
- Jason Collins meets with Shepard's parents - AP
- Jason Collins of Brooklyn Nets meets with Matthew Shepard's parents - Paul Willis & MIke Mazzeo - ESPN
- Special Night for Collins, and a Win for the Nets - Justin Felisko - New York Times
- Nets' Jason Collins hopes wearing No. 98 inspires - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Nets’ Collins: Meeting with Shepards a ‘special’ event - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets notes: Jason Collins honors murdered gay student - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Jason Collins and Nets, Rightly Focused on Basketball, Still Transcending Sports - Kevin Ding - Bleacher Report
- Matthew Shepard's parents to cheer on openly gay NBA player at Denver game - Laura Hancock - Casper Star-Tribune
- Faried shows support for Collins as Nuggets host Nets - Brian Olson - KUSA
- The Starters: Meaning Behind Number 98 (Video) - NBA.com
- NBA Player Jason Collins to Be Cheered On by Matthew Shepard's Parents - Debbie Emery - Hollywood Reporter
- Jason Collins Just Wants to Play Basketball - Laura Garcia - The Advocate
- Gallery: Collins meets with Shepard's parents - AP
Jason Collins #98 jersey leads NBAStore sales for the third straight day - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game